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Utopia: Thomas More Paperback – March 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Nota Bene
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084290
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Clarence Miller has made a lively and accurate translation which preserves the subtlety and wit of More's own Latin. Fluent and highly readable, this new version should be welcomed by all admirers of the Utopia." Louis Martz, Yale University "What Clarence Miller attempts - and accomplishes - here is a nuanced and textured rendition in English that says neither less nor more than the Latin itself." Daniel Kinney, University of Virginia"

About the Author

Clarence H. Miller, now emeritus, was Dorothy McBride Orthwein Professor of English Literature at St. Louis University. He served as executive editor of the fifteen-volume Yale Edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More and is the author or editor of more than a dozen other books.

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Customer Reviews

This book was very intriguing.
Laurel Johnson
This book has been on my reading list for a while, and I finally grabbed a copy to read when I got my Kindle.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner
That may be your idea of Utopia but it's certainly not mine.
Rob

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Van Wagoner VINE VOICE on September 7, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has been on my reading list for a while, and I finally grabbed a copy to read when I got my Kindle. Thomas More, as well as many other famous men, put to writing a vision of the ideal society. As with most visions of the ideal society, he had some good ideas that were eventually put in place, but he also had many impractical ideas that won't work just due to the nature of man. It was also interesting to see that he came from an era that accepted several social mores such as slavery that today we find unacceptable and were deemed good institutions in his ideal society.

I think my favorite part was the method the Utopians used to minimize the importance of gold, fine apparel, and money. Gold and jewelry were considered baubles only interesting to children. They marked their slaves by bedecking them with gold. He related a story of a foreign ambassador coming to visit the Utopians. They mistook the gold bedecked ambassador as the slave and the plainly clothed slave as the ambassador and treated each as such.

I highly recommend this relatively short book as a glance into how people in the Middle Ages viewed the ideal society and also as a legitimate look at ongoing social problems. More highlights pride as one of the biggest problems facing society. It appears to be a continuing issue.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Thad Curtz on September 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Yale edition (Miller's translation - $6.95) gives a bare list of events in More's life, but the short introduction mostly focuses on the syntax and rhetoric of the book; there's very little in it about the social and historical background. It omits the commendatory letters from various humanists, but includes both the opening letter to Giles from More, and the postscript letter to Giles from the 1517 edition (but not the Busleyden letter about Utopia as a real place that prompted it). (It also has the 1518 woodcut map of Utopia.) The sidenotes that Miller thinks are not mere section markers are placed in the footnotes.

The Hackett edition (Wooton's translation - also $6.95) has a pointed persuasively argued introduction focusing on the translator's own interpretation of the work; he relates it to More's life and the paradoxical double vision of Christian piety and ordinary social life also found in More's friend Erasmus's "The Sileni of Alicbiades," which is included. This edition puts the sidenotes in the margins, and also includes all the introductory and appended material by others, the 1516 map, the Utopian alphabet and the garden woodcut, and black and white illustrations of portraits of More, Erasmus and Gilles.

I haven't seen the other options.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jessss on February 16, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The work begins with written correspondence between Thomas More and several people he had met on the continent: Peter Giles, town clerk of Antwerp, and Jerome Busleiden, counselor to Charles V. More chose these letters, which are communications between actual people, to further the plausibility of his fictional land. In the same spirit, these letters also include a specimen of the Utopian alphabet and its poetry. It is a great book that allows one to think about human nature. Utopia itself is an imaginary place that is nonexistent. Many have wondered over the years why More even wrote it. I forces one to consider that if the government of a place allows circumstances to occur that remove mans ability to take care of basic needs on a just and right way, should they be punished when they achieve it by breaking their laws?
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Schriftman on October 29, 2008
This is an astonishing work - given that it was written five hundred years ago by Thomas More, a rich Catholic and later Lord Chancellor.

Thomas More begins his tale autobiographically and relates how he meets a traveler called Raphael who is highly educated in Greek language and literature (who is, in other words, a humanist). The rest of the short book consists mainly of Raphael's discourse about the island of Utopia, which is Greek for "no place" (though it might also be a pun for "good place").

Utopia is a country without private ownership and many other features that stood in stark contrast to More's England of the time - and, in fact, to the Catholic Church. In that way the book can be seen as a (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) critique of early 16th-century society. Utopia is truly "no place": a place that does not and will never exist. It is, instead, a literary device for More to challenge his own culture.

These challenges include the way slavery was conducted, the greedy obsession with gold and the oppression of the poor, the complicatedness of the judicial system, religious intolerance, etc. Coming from a rich Catholic lawyer, this truly is astonishing: a satire about the establishment written by someone inside the establishment itself.

Consider this description of religious tolerance, for instance:

"He judged it not fit to determine anything rashly; and seemed to doubt whether those different forms of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire man in a different manner, and be pleased with this variety; he therefore thought it indecent and foolish for any man to threaten and terrify another to make him believe what did not appear to him to be true.
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